The Fry-Fowler Family

"We have stayed at the Bristol RMH 4 times!
My son who is 13 has Downs Syndrome, he was born with a complex heart condition. He had his first heart operation at 4 months old - we were able to stay at the RMH while he was in hospital. They supported us and cared for us and our needs at a time we needed it most. The staff were so friendly and understanding and the place was beautiful and homely, they made us feel so welcome. My son was 4 years old on his next heart operation and then 10 years old on his most recent one- again the RMH were amazing on every occasion, While he was cared for at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children we were  cared for at RMH and I couldn’t be more thankful for the amazing work they do to support families in their time of need. I’ve recommended to friends that have been in similar situations. And everyone has to be thankful for the RMH and the amazing staff that work there to ensure your every need is met. SO THANK YOU RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE AND STAFF. Forever grateful."
Thank you so Fry-Fowler family for sharing your story.

Louise, Mum

"I gave birth to my son at Southmead Hospital and he was transferred to Bristol Royal Hospital for Children at 8 hours old he was diagnosed with TGA. When talking to hospital staff RMHB was mentioned to us and I asked if I could put our names down as we don’t drive and having a bus which takes us an hour to get to the centre wouldn’t help if anything happened.
Two days later we were offered a room which surprised us as we were thinking it was more for families outside Bristol. We stayed for 3 weeks at RMHB in the end. All the volunteers and other families were friendly and helped so much. Once our son was back on the ward I gave up the room as I felt that another family may be in greater need. If it wasn't for RMHB we would have been stuck especially with buses being rubbish like they are. A few years ago myself and a mate donated books, toys and made bags for families to say thank you."
Thank you Louise for sharing your story and for your fantastic support.

Sonya, Patient

"My longest stay at the Children's Hospital was 18 months, although I was in and out of hospital for most of my teen years, mum being able to stay nearby was so important and allowed the rest of my family to visit me. We cannot thank the staff and house enough for their help during the difficult times. It's been 8 years since I left Bristol and I still remember with fondness the time spent at the house"
Thank you for sharing your story and for your ongoing support.

The Harris Family

"Being able to take time away from the intensity of the ward and just breathe in a space that was just for us enabled us to be strong for our child. Thank you."

"We stayed with you in Dec 2019 whilst our daughter was in intensive care. The room enabled us to take it in turns to sleep both at night and during the day. It also gave us a base to put our belongings and to wash!!

Being able to take time away from the intensity of the ward and just breathe in a space that was just for us enabled us to be strong for our child. Thank you.

We also met other families in the communal areas, people shared food, stories, made us tea. It was beyond value."

Huge thanks to the Harris family for sharing their story. We are pleased to say their daughter is now doing well.

Shan, Mum

We are very pleased to say that after 14 months Archie's family have returned to Plymouth, making them one step closer to home.

We are very pleased to say that the amazing Archie and his family have headed back to Plymouth after spending 14 months in our home from home! Although we're sad to say goodbye, we are so happy for them that they are able to move that little bit closer to home and can't wait for the day that they get to take their brave boy home for the first time!

Upon departure they donated items for other families to use as well as £500, covering 2 whole weeks for another family in need!

"We spent 14 long months in the RMH and was cared for so lovingly. Without the RMH we would not of been able to be so close to our son Archie whilst he spent his time in PICU and HDU. Jem the housekeeper is an absolute star there and deserves so much more appreciation! A HUGE thank you from all of our hearts. All our love"

We are so grateful to them for their kindness and generosity, and are so happy we were able to help keep their family close.

This comment also made housekeeper Jem's day! We are very proud of our amazing team and Jem is another staff member who has been with us since the beginning, working tirelessly to keep our house clean and tidy and support our families.

Huge thanks once again to this amazing family! We wish you all the very best for the future.

The Turner Family

We are very pleased to say that Jayne and Kale have been able to return home after over 2 years in ours!

"Thank you all so much, words cannot express my deepest gratitude. Without this beautiful safe place to stay life would of been even harder. We will never forget the kindness you have shown us."

Jayne began her stay with us back in September 2018 when her son Kale suffered from a tumour and bleed on the brain leading to a severe brain injury. Since then he was in the care of Bristol Royal Hospital for Children with his family staying close by in our home from home.

Having stayed in our house for over 2 years, Jayne and the family are our longest staying family to date. Although we will miss Jayne and the whole family, we are absolutely over the moon that they are able to go home together now and wish them all the very best for the future.

We would also like to say a very big thank you to Jayne and the whole family for the fantastic support they have shown us throughout their stay, we are so very grateful for all they have done for our home from home and for this wonderful plaque that they gave us.

We are so happy to be able to share this fantastic news and join the many staff and families wishing Kale and Jayne well as they get to go home!

The Hutt Family

"Our daughter was born with a serious congenital heart defect in 1987. Even though she was so poorly, she actually managed to go with out needing any surgery until she was 10 years old, despite us being told that she would need a heart / lung transplant and probably wouldn't live to a year old. She had bits and pieces in her heart that shouldn't be there, that could fail at any time, but they were keeping her alive. She was, and still is, a proper little miracle. She had four operations over a few years, and to begin with we had to stay in a bed and breakfast up the road from the hospital, when we could afford it. A lot of the time, my husband had to sleep in the car and the hospital very kindly let me sleep next to Lauren. On our last visit we stayed at Ronald McDonald, and even though that was many years ago, I can still remember that feeling of calm that washed over me when I walked through your doors. I'll never forget it.

Lauren's last operation was in 2004, where she had a 9 hour operation, and they said she'd need the valve that they fitted, replaced in approx 12 years. It's only now starting to fail, so she's due more surgery this year, at the age of almost 33. She's done pretty well!

Lauren was warned against having a baby, due to obvious health risks, so her older sister acted as a surrogate, so now Lauren and her husband Michael, have a beautiful 18 month old little girl, Rae.

We did some fundraising five years ago and we sponsored the Westbury room and we sponsored the Dartmoor room about 12 years ago, by doing a parachute jump.

What you all do at RMH is pretty amazing. Well done!"

Huge thanks to the Hutt family for sharing their amazing story and for all their support over the years. We are so happy to hear Lauren is well and now has a baby of her own.

Mary, Great Aunt

"I recently stayed two nights with my niece while her 7 year old was in PICU, thankfully our stay was short as the wonderful medical team managed to stabilise Aaron so he could be transferred back to Yeovil hospital, reuniting them with the rest of the family.

To say I was impressed with RMH would be a massive understatement, I was absolutely blown away by the amount of care and thought which makes this place a safe and welcoming refuge for families who need it so very much.

The room we stayed in was spotlessly clean, comfortably equipped and welcoming. The communal areas were superb with everything a family needs to make what must sometimes be lengthy stays bearable. The kitchen/dining area was immensely well provided for and I was impressed with the thoughtful separation of the area into individual kitchens. I was pleased to see breast milk storage facilities too. The laundry was fully equipped and there was ample play space for children in a lovely, comfortable lounge area. The gardens were well laid out with plenty of space for children to run around, lots of seating for families and even some tucked away in quieter nooks for those who need a more private oasis for a while.

The whole set up felt like something done by people who care and understand the trauma families are going through, right down to the provision of toiletries and food for those whose visit was so unexpected they had no time to sort these things out. My thanks and heartfelt gratitude go to everyone involved with RMH, you really do make a difference."

Huge thanks to Mary for sharing her story and mum Kirsty for sharing this photo. We are very pleased to say Aaron is now home with his family and doing well.

The Mills Family

"When our son was 5 months old he was admitted to GRH with bronchiolitis… a week later he was diagnosed with 2 heart conditions and admitted to Bristol Children’s Hospital. To be honest I hadn’t really thought what would happen to family members when that happens when you aren’t just down the road. I stayed in with our son but that left our eldest who was then 4 and my husband far away from me. Then they were incredibly lucky and were given a room in Ronald McDonald House Bristol. 3 weeks they used the room until our son was discharged. It meant that my husband would get up and travel back to Brockworth to drop him at my mums and then he'd be taken to school, leaving my husband free to come and sit with me in hospital. Then someone would bring him back after school, he would play in the playroom or hospital room and then go for something to eat and then bed in the ‘hotel’ as he called it. It was an incredibly stressful time and having them close by made all the difference to us all.

We were so touched that on Good Friday they discovered Easter Eggs outside their room! It was then I decided that I would support the house however I could. Since then I have organised many fundraising events, Easter Eggs collection, items for the house and Christmas presents. Furthermore, my mum did a skydive this year for her 70th birthday.

I was very privileged to have been asked to be a volunteer community ambassador over 2 years ago. I know so many people who the house has supported and cannot explain enough just how amazing it is on so many levels with such amazing staff who work so hard. Thanks you so much."

Huge thanks to the Mills family for sharing their story and for all they do for our house and families.

Nicola, Mum

“We were at Bristol children's hospital for 9 weeks from October to December with our son. We got discharged on the Sunday and by the Tuesday we had been sent back to the hospital and our son needed another operation. We were in pieces that was his 4th operation in 3 months. We had nowhere to stay and nothing really with us as we had rushed up from Cornwall and hadn't packed anything.
RMH were amazing.
They sorted us a room out and had toiletries and extra food that people had donated. They also left presents and a gorgeous food hamper outside our room on Christmas eve. It wasn't the first Christmas that we had planned as a family but they made us feel welcome and had decorated the house to make it as special as it could be. We will be forever grateful to them.”

Huge thanks to Nicola for sharing her story and for her families support following their stay.

The Short Family

"Shortly after the birth or our twins (Digby and Florence) Florence started to have episodes of apneas and battled with silent reflux. Soon she was taken into our local hospital Derriford (Plymouth) and within a few weeks they decided to send her to The Bristol Children's hospital for more testing as her condition did not improve and her weight began to plummet. 
 
Although only in Bristol briefly it was a very stressful and unstable time for our family and it is thanks to the McDonald house that my partner was able to be up there with her. We were touched with how accommodating and supportive the charity was in our time of need especially when me, her eldest brother Buddy and twin Digby came up to stay too, and we know the charity would have continued to be supportive had we been there for more of a long term stay. 
 
Enabling people to stay as a family unit in a time where one can be torn apart is so crucial and as such we will forever be grateful. 
 
Since our stay we have spread the word of the charities cause and we are happy to say that Florence is now doing great and her problems were put down to her prematurity. 
 
Thank you again McDonald House. We are donating £200 but this is a mere touch of your worth. 
 
Rosie (Mum) Scott (Dad) Buddy (Brother) Digby and Florence (the twins)"

                         

Huge thanks to the Short family for sharing their story and for their generous support, it's lovely to see Florence doing so well.

The Eastwood Family

"On 16th October 2018 our son Jamie was admitted to Bristol Children’s Hospital and he was seriously ill.

Straight away we were put on the waiting list for RMH Bristol and at that point I had no idea how much we needed that room to stay in!

Jamie spent 5 weeks in hospital and was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis which is a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and he was treated for this.

After a week of being in hospital where we had been taking it in turns to drive home to Exeter every day, we were offered a room at RMH Bristol. Wow!!! What an amazing place! No more driving up and down the M5, no more buying take away food and no more worrying about getting the washing done, RMH catered for everything. Not only that but the staff were amazing, friendly and supportive and we met lots of people all in the same situation as us and have made some good friends.

My dad was able to travel to Bristol and stay with us which gave me the flexibility to come home for a few days and spend some time with our 12 year old daughter Lauren, she had to go to school and therefore was staying with my mum whilst we were in Bristol. My mum also came to stay for a couple of nights so she could spend some time with Jamie.

I will never be able to thank RMH Bristol enough for the accommodation they provided, it was home from home. It kept our family together as much as possible and took away all the stress and financial worries.

Unfortunately the treatment for Jamie didn’t work and we had to return to Bristol for him to have surgery to remove his bowel, yet again RMH Bristol were able to accommodate us and my dad was able to come and stay again. Luckily this time we were only there for 6 days and were able to bring Jamie home to recover.

Thank you RMH Bristol for everything, you make life so much better when families are going through such a tough time. If I wasn’t for you guys I think there would have been many a night where one of us would have slept in the car! I will continue to try and raise money to help keep your home running."

 

Huge thanks to the Eastwood family for sharing their story and for all they have done for us since staying in the house.

The Bradley Family

"we will never forget the kindness of all those at RMHB and those who support its amazing work

"Our 2 year old daughter Rosie was 3 days into what would become a 9 week stay at Bristol Children’s Hospital when we arrived at Ronald McDonald House in Bristol in June 2018.

We had spent the previous 2 nights, after her transfer from Exeter hospital by the Watch Team, sleeping in bunk beds two floors above Seahorse PICU where she was critically ill. For my husband Mike and I, it was reassuring to be so close in the hospital, but with our 6 year old son at home in Tiverton, Devon, to consider, getting the keys to Woodland at RMHB was a huge relief.

Knowing he would have somewhere to come and stay with us at the weekends, and with the school summer holidays approaching, and without any cost, meant we could make plans for how the rest of us might get through the coming weeks – even though we couldn’t plan for what might happen to Rosie. After 2 weeks on PICU she was transferred to the wonderful team on Penguin Ward who cared amazingly for her, and all our family.

I can clearly remember the genuine, warm, empathy of Denise at RMHB on the afternoon she showed me around the house and to our room. And in the coming weeks nothing was too much to ask of the team – from signing for deliveries for us, to loaning us a clothes horse and tracking down extra bedding for when all 3 of us were staying in the room. These little things meant we could concentrate on Rosie’s needs and those of our son, who may otherwise have been left traumatised by what had been happening to his sister.

Rosie had come to Bristol suffering severe septic shock after her stomach perforated, which is very rare and serious in a toddler. She continues to recover at home in Devon, but we will never forget the kindness of all those at RMHB and those who support its amazing work."

Huge thanks to the Bradley family for sharing their story and for their support.

The Sumsion Family

"They provide a service you never want to need, they offer comfort and support, and reduce stress, for parents going through the worst times of their lives."

"We knew from the twenty week scan that our daughter had a heart condition. The doctors and nurses at the hospital worked with us to prepare us for what would happen. We were warned that immediately after birth our daughter would be taken away from us and cared for in NICU (the regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St Michael’s hospital, Bristol). Within a day we were transferred to the Children’s Hospital and to our relief they were able to provide a bed for one parent to stay with our new born baby. There were two of us, but we would make it work.

Within days our daughter went for keyhole surgery; the results weren’t good. The doctors had been unable to open the blockage in her pulmonary valve and needed to increase the dosage of the medicine which was keeping her alive. We were dejected, but the doctors told us it would be OK; they would just have to do open heart surgery rather than keyhole.

Then the news came. She needed more intensive care than the ward was unable to provide. She needed to be transferred to PICU (the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit in the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children). So we’d witnessed our daughter not breathing, and now she was moving to intensive care.  Oh, and there are no beds for parents on PICU. They have a few beds in a room but they were full.  We couldn’t stay.

We were now in turmoil. We would stay as long as we could by our daughter’s side. Going home simply wasn’t viable.  If we went home and something happened it could take over an hour to get back in bad traffic. That’s without the trouble of finding a parking space. She could die in a minute, risking an hour just wasn’t an option. That was when we got some of the best news we could have hoped for (in the circumstances). Ronald McDonald House Bristol had a room for us. We’d been told that they might be an option; but we’d also been told that they have long waiting lists. We’d been put on the list as soon as we arrived at the hospital. We didn’t know exactly what we were going to get, or what would be provided, but we knew there would be a bed.

We walked up the hill from the hospital and were greeted by a friendly face. We needed to pay a deposit for the key. It was only £10, but we didn’t have it on us. It wasn’t a problem we could pay another day.  It was only a deposit we would get it back when we left. We were shown around the house. There was a big kitchen with a cupboard for every family; there was a sitting room with a big TV, laundry facilities, a garden to sit outside, and then there was our room. Our room had two beds, a TV, free Wi-Fi, and ensuite facilities. It also had a phone. The phone was connected to the hospital exchange and we could use it to call the internal phone number at our daughter’s bedside. We could contact our daughter’s nurse at any time day or night and she could contact us.  No concerns with batteries or signal on a mobile. No need to get out of bed. It sounds like a simple thing but it is the little things that made the difference.

The mood in the house was amazing. You were surrounded by people all in the same situation, all with seriously ill children. Inevitably some people will have good days and some will have bad. People were friendly and supportive, the good days averaged out with the bad, and everyone remained as positive as possible. You could smile or cry; no one judged.

As the weeks went by and the doctors worked to help our daughter we had comfort in knowing that we could go back to the house and rest; if something happened it was just a few minutes’ walk to the hospital, no worries about parking or traffic. We were able to experience some normality and we watched the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics in the sitting room. It was strangely normal.  It was a home away from home.
The doctors were successful and managed to get our daughter well enough to come home.  We left the home forever in their debt.

Our daughter has regular check-ups and we live with the knowledge that she will have to have repeat surgery throughout her life. We knew she would need surgery at some point in the future but we didn’t know when. In November 2016 the time arrived. Again we were in hospital knowing our daughter had an eight hour long operation to survive. The wait is the worst time you can ever imagine and once again we were faced with the prospect of our daughter lying in an intensive care ward and us not being nearby. We had requested to stay at the Ronald McDonald house again, but they were full. The hospital managed to find us a pull out bed in a room on a ward. We were warned that they might need the room in the night and if that was the case we might get thrown out in a hurry. We were lucky and slept through the night.

The next night we got the news that a room was available at Ronald McDonald House Bristol. We were delighted; it might sound silly, but it is a testament to the house that in a time so stressful something could cause delight. To us this meant we knew we could stay reassuringly close to the hospital, have a wash, and something to eat in a warm safe and comforting environment. This, our second stay, was a lot shorter than our first as our daughter made a rapid recovery from her surgery. Despite the shorter stay the impact of the house was the same.

Since leaving the house I’ve decided to help where I can. I spent the first few years donating money every time I visited McDonalds, mistakenly thinking I was giving them money to support the Bristol house. I’ve now found out that isn’t true. While the money in the collection boxes does go to support similar houses around the UK, the Bristol house is independent of this. The national charity RMHC (Ronald McDonald House Charities) helped to setup the house when it opened, and gave the charity its name as one of many charities with the same aim worldwide, but now the charity must be self-sufficient.

Since then I’ve completed the Bristol 10K with a friend (it has to be said it was a walk more than a run) between us raising £600 for the house, but that is never enough. I work in IT, so I’m helping them out as a volunteer with some IT needs, and we helped by holding buckets during their Christmas carols at Cabot Circus. Alas this still is not enough. I don’t think we’ll ever be able to repay the house and its wonderful staff for what they did for us. Supporting us and giving us some stability in the most unstable of times. If you asked me to describe what they do and its impact in one sentence it would be this; They provide a service you never want to need, they offer comfort and support, and reduce stress, for parents going through the worst times of their lives."

Huge thanks to the Sumsion family for sharing their story and for all they do for us. We are happy to say their daughter is now doing well.

The Oliver Family

"When I look back at the time spent at the hospital in Bristol, my memories of the house overshadow my unpleasant memories in the ICU."

"At the end of April 2018 our precious sweet baby boy became so unwell that the watch Team had to pick him up from Devon and take him to Bristol children’s ICU. I arrived in the early hours of the morning and was given a parent room with a bunk bed for the night. I was so unwell and cold and was in terrible shock. By time I had made it back into ICU the sister and receptionist already had the paperwork waiting for me to apply for a room in RMH. I was told there could be a waiting list but I was so fortunate that a room became available and myself and my husband could go up that afternoon.

On arrival we were treated by such kind staff who were full of smiles. I was in such a mess as had been treated for a double blood clot and lung infection when our baby was born and I was two hours late with pumping my milk which was making me feel terrible. One lady grabbed us both a cup of tea whilst the other lady took me to a store room to get me an electric pump to sort myself out. They could see I was unwell so gave me details of a local GP surgery up the Hill which would see parents with children in the hospital.

The staff were amazing. The house was lovely and welcoming and overall my stay at the house was a real blessing. When I look back at the time spent at the hospital in Bristol my memories of the house overshadow my unpleasant memories in the ICU. Thankfully our baby boy recovered and is now doing great."

Huge thanks to the Oliver family for sharing their story and for their support.